Americans Cutting Back

Retail Sales Fall Off A Cliff Record-Setting Drop In Spending Latest Body Blow To Faltering U.S. Economy iStockphoto

This column was written by CBS News Early Show Co-Anchor Harry Smith.
Does anyone really know what's going to happen with the economy?

I have two words for you, hang on. Citigroup announced the layoffs of more than 50,000 employees this week. You can bet there will be more, and not just in the financial industry.

Americans are apparently sobering up in a big way after their wild and crazy debt driven shopping spree of the last decade or two.

For retailers looking for a silver lining this Christmas from an otherwise bleak year, its already certain that sales will not match last years and could very well fall far short.

Look for blank spots in your local mall next year where stores used to be. How bad is it?

A friend of mine who talks to big companies everyday, talked to a fellow whose business includes the sale of toilet paper.

This man informed him in no uncertain terms that the sale of something most of us consider (excuse the pun) a bare necessity has stalled significantly.

Yes, Americans are cutting back, even on toilet paper.

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